9 Ways to take a micro mindful moment
When you read the word mindfulness it might conjur up visions of meditating on a cushion or doing something at glacial speed. While mindfulness can involve meditation or slowing down, that's not all it's about. At the heart of it mindfulness is about paying attention to what's going on right now, without judgement. And as such it can be applied to anything in our lives, anywhere, at any time.
Being mindful gives your brain a rest. It doesn't mean you have to stop what you're doing. It means giving your mind a break from thinking 58 different things while zipping back and forth between the past and the future. It's as exhausting as it sounds, it stresses us out and it gets us stuck in worrying mode. Taking a micro moment at any time of day lets us take a breather, come out of our worrying mind and reconnect with what's real around us.
Here are 9 ways you can take a micro mindful moment today:
1 As you wash your face in the morning pay attention to how the water feels on your hands, the temperature on your skin, the sensation as the water splashes your face.
2 When you make a cup of tea listen to the sound in the kettle change as the water reaches boiling point. Notice how the water pours out of the spout and the motion of the tea bag under its pressure. Look at the steam rising from your mug, how the spoon feels in your hand as you squeeze out the tea bag.
3 While walking down a street, through a park or along a corridor, engage some of your senses. Notice individual sounds you can hear – a car engine, leaves and tree branches rustling, people talking. Say to yourself silently what you can see – traffic lights, a flower bed, a sign on a door. Pay attention to how your feet feel on the ground – how your weight shifts from foot to foot, how comfortable your shoes are, the rhythm of your stride.
4 At lunchtime give yourself a few minutes without checking your email, scrolling social media or working. Give all your focus to what you're eating, look at its colour and texture, notice its aroma, consider how it feels to bite into and chew, how it tastes.
5 When talking with a friend, work colleague or your loved one really listen to them. Resist the urge to think about what your response will be or to drift off to other thoughts. Pay full attention to what they're saying and how they're saying it.
6 Set an alarm on your phone to sound a few times throughout your day as a prompt to take a micro mindful moment. When you hear the alarm pause in whatever you're doing and bring your attention to your breath. Don't breathe any differently, just focus on where you can feel your breath go in and out of your body and follow it for ten breaths.
7 While you prepare dinner give all your attention to the task rather than thinking about what happened that day or what you've still to do before bed. Focus on what you're chopping, notice the weight of the knife in your hand, how it slices through the food and the sound it makes. Observe, for just a few seconds, the pan on the hob with food browning or steam rising. As you put food on the plate notice the colours and textures, how they contrast to the plain or patterned plate.
8 As you massage moisturising cream into your face before bed notice how your fingertips glide over your skin with the silky lotion. Slow down your movements so you can feel your skin being soothed and massaged as you smooth the cream over your face. If it helps to keep your attention on how your skin feels (and not get distracted by looking for wrinkles) close your eyes for a few seconds.
9 When you're finally lying in bed at the end of the day, before you drift off, focus your attention on how it feels to be warm, to be comfortable, for the weight of your body to be supported by the mattress and your breathing to slow.
The key with a micro mindful moment is to observe, not judge, what you're giving your attention to. Once you realise your mind has wandered off to thinking how the walls need repainting, you should be eating a healthier lunch (read this for why I want to ban 'should'), you want a new kitchen, about where you bought the mug, that you're looking tired, stop and move your attention back to the subject of your micro mindful moment. You don't need to tell yourself off for your mind wandering, just notice and move it back to what you were focusing on.
These examples of micro mindful moments need only take a minute, that's why they're micro moments! Scattered throughout the day they will give your mind periodic breathers to take a break from running at 100mph and allow your brain to simply focus on one thing – the present moment.